CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Jeff Lindgren is keeping his dad busy. The former Centennial and Illinois State pitcher is home for the foreseeable future, waiting to go back to Florida to resume spring training. Until then, he’s playing catch with his dad John in the street to keep his arm in shape. Lindgren is also taking advantage of his parent’s home gym. Last year’s 24th round pick by the Marlins was about halfway thru spring ball when everyone at the facility was told to go home due to COVID-19.
“It was really weird actually,” Lindgren said. “They called us in for a meeting on a Sunday and told us to go pack your lockers up. We can’t really use the complex, we’re shutting everything down and we really didn’t know what to expect. They didn’t have many answers for us.”
Lindgren was anxious to get back on mound in a game after a great start to his pro career. The 6-foot-1 right hander spent just a few weeks in Low A ball in New York, before getting moved up to Jupiter to play with Miami’s Advanced A team, the Hammerheads.
“Got pretty excited and called my mom and dad because they were actually supposed to head out to Batavia in two days to come watch me,” said Lindgren. “I said, ‘You’re going to have to change your plans there’ but yeah it was crazy. Got off to another great run there in Jupiter, stuck there for the rest of the year.”
Lindgren was tabbed to be back with Hammerheads in Florida to open this season. His journey to pro ball is a story in itself. Originally committed to Parkland as a junior at Centennial, he got a late offer from Illinois State just three weeks before his freshman year was supposed to start. He jumped at the opportunity and ended up helping lead the Redbirds to a run in the NCAA tournament last spring, knocking off nationally ranked Louisville and Indiana. Playing on that stage helped Lindgren get more exposure and ultimately drafted just a few weeks later.
“As we kept winning, obviously people kept taking interest in us and you put yourself in the right position and people are going to see you,” he said.
And that paid off for Lindgren, who is now in position to continue living his dream of playing professional baseball.